Meditation at the Ballet

Ballet dancer in motion on the stage in theatre

“When we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey.  When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point.  And exactly the same thing is true in meditation.  Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”

– Alan Watts

There are few things in life that bring me closer to complete joy and harmony than being at the ballet.  I will likely drop everything and anything (minus attending to my patients, loved ones, and my dog) to sit mesmerized and  engrossed in the dark witnessing the graceful fluidity, movement and music of a myriad of talented artists.  It occurred to me last week during the beautiful performance of Swan Lake at Lincoln Center that this is because of the meditative state it brings to me, or me to it.

Focusing on the movement, leaps and expressions of the dancers, I found myself affixed to each moment with complete awareness.  Bodies bending and moving became shapes and energies, lightly attached to the narrative of the background storyline.  This partnership of non-judgmental observation and intellectual knowing is the keynote of what meditation is for me.  To feel in the moment the sets of emotions that rise and crash– either softly or suddenly like waves– may feel unpredictable but is also what makes us extraordinarily human.  Lest we forget that, the ballet is always there to remind us.